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Are you looking for a graphic design word or term? Why not check out our graphic design glossary / dictionary.

Ascender- The part of a lowercase letter that falls above the body (x-height) of the letter. "b", "d", "f", "h", "k" and "l" are all examples of letters with ascenders.

Animation- The process of combining images to give the illusion of movement.

Anti-Aliasing- Smoothing or blending the transition of pixels in an image. Anti-aliasing the edges on a graphic image makes the edges appear smooth, not jagged.

Bitmap- A bitmap is a graphic  file that is made up of square dots (pixels). Scaling these images to larger sizes  result in these pixels becoming  larger which can make the image look blocky with jagged edges..

Bleed- Method used in print to have ink printed right up to the edge of a page. The way this is done is by having the document printed on a larger page. Then the printer prints 1/8th (usually) of an inch beyond the document size on each side, and is then cut to size.

CMYK- The initials of the four process colors. They are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. K is used for black to not confuse people into thinking blue.

Compression- A method used in graphics programs to shrink the size of image files. Jpegs use compression to shrink down file sizes, and TIFs have the option to compress using LZW for example.

Cropping- This involves removing the outside edges of a photograph to remove excessive or irrelevant background content of a photo. This technique is often used to create interesting framing for images. Note that this is not the same as resizing, which keeps the image intact.

Descender- The part of a lowercase letter that falls below the body (baseline) of the letter. "g", "j", "p", "q" and "y" are all examples of letters with descenders.

Dithering- This is a process used in making an image (like in a GIF file that has 256 colors or less) appear to have more colors than it really does. This is done by blending pixels using patterns that approximate the colors it is trying to produce. Up close, this dithering looks quite dotty and speckled, but at a normal viewing distance, the effect of more colors and cleaner transitions can be obtained.

Dots Per Inch- (or dpi) This specifies the resolution of an output device, like a printer or printer press.  This print resolution varies depending on what kind of output is required.

Duotone- This is a technique which mixes two colors (Duo) which can provide richer toned image than a monotone graphic. The sum can be greater than its parts and give the impression of more colors than just the two. This can be an effective way of designing with a limited color output budget. 

Export- The process of saving a graphics file to a format that can be opened in another program. These formats are usually not the native format of the program you are exporting from.

FlightCheck- This is a prepress program that reads a disk (or other media) and checks for and identifies missing fonts, embedded graphics, bad traps, and many other potential problems.

Font- This is the letters, punctuation, numbers and symbols that make up a single typeface. An example of a font is Eras Light ITC. Another font is Eras Bold ITC. The typeface in this instance is Eras. It is the variations of this typeface that are fonts.

GIF- (Graphics Interchange Format)- This is a widely used graphics format for the Internet that allows transparency and animation. The limitation of this format is that it the maximum number of colors is 256. GIFs are often dithered, which can give the illusion of more colors.

Gradient- This is a gradual transition of two or more colors.

Greyscale- This is a color mode where there are no colors in use. There is just black, white, and various shades in between. In the print world, a greyscale image is actually made up of just black ink. The value of the grey depends on the density and size of the black dots printed. In photographs, halftones are produced to simulate various shades.

GUI- (Graphical User Interface) This is a user interface based on graphics (icons and pictures and menus) instead of text. When designing a website, it is important to design the GUI effectively.

Halftone- Process used in print for Photographs, paintings, and drawings. Because most printing presses cannot produce continuous tones, images are converted to halftones to simulate continuous tones. Using fine dots of varying size and spacing, halftones can reproduce the shades and textures of the original image.

HTML- (Hypertext Markup Language) This is THE standard format for the Internet. Html pages can include text, images, animation, video, sound, and more.

Hue- This is another term for color.

Interlace- This is a web graphic technique used to have an image appear in steps (with a rough image appearing first, and then progressively getting more detail), rather than waiting for the full source image to appear. This is getting less and less used as broadband Internet picks up steam.

Italics- This is the slanting forward of serif fonts.

JavaScript- This is a language used to do things on the Internet that html coding often cannot.

Jpeg- (Joint Photographic Experts Group). This is the main format used on the Internet (and elsewhere) for photographic/continuous toned images. Because the Jpeg format uses compression, you can often obtain much smaller file sizes and still maintain photographic quality.

Justified- This is when text is aligned vertically on the left AND right margins.

Kerning- This is the process of selectively adjusting the spacing between letters pairs to improve the overall appearance. The letter pairs that most often need some kind of kerning treatment are AV, AY, PA, and AT. These letter pairs often look awkward together, and need to either be moved closer together, or further apart manually.

Keyline -This is an image placer in layout that represents where an image is to go when it is printed. This placeholder doesn't print, but it fits the position and size of the image that will b e printed in that spot.  This Keyline often is a rectangle with an x through it.

Kilobyte (kb)- This is 1,024 bytes of digital information.

Landscape- The orientation of a document that is to display a page length wise instead of up and down. A brochure will often be a landscape document, where the width is wider than the height.


Leading- This is the distance between the baseline of one line of text to the next baseline of text.


Ligature- This is when letters in a word touch.

Lossless Compression- This is a way of saving a graphic file in a compressed format to reduce the file size without any loss of image quality. The PNG format useless this kind of lossless compression for example.

Lossy Compression- This is a way of saving a graphic file in a compressed format to reduce the file size, but at the cost of image quality. Jpegs can be saved at various levels of compression. The higher the compression, the smaller the file size, and the more image quality is lost.

LPI: (Lines Per Inch)

Mouse-over- A technique used on the Internet where an image changes to another image when the mouse pointer moves over the image. An example of this is a button where it looks like it is being pressed down when you move the mouse pointer over it.

PDF- (Portable Document Format) This format developed by Adobe makes it possible to keep the exact fonts, format, and layout of a document across any platform. These files can be created in Adobe Acrobat, or any program that can output to PDF. An Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view these files.

Pica-Pica is a unit of measure commonly used in graphic design. Six picas equals roughly one inch (precisely, six picas equals .9957 inches). Most graphic design programs round off picas so that six picas exactly equals one inch.

PNG- (Portable Network Graphics format) This is a lossless compression format that is used on the Internet to display high color graphics like photographs. You can also have transparency with PNGs, but the file sizes can be larger.

Portrait- The orientation of a document that displays the longest sides of the document vertically. An example of this is an 8.5X11 paper viewed normally.

Postscript- This is a language used by postscript printers to convert documents so they can be printed.

PPI-(Points Per Inch) This is the resolution of an input device. Examples include digital cameras, scanners, and monitors.

Process Color- Colors that are made up of the CMYK. By using halftones, you can obtain photographic full color images using just CMYK. Also known as Full Color.

Quick Time- The video format developed by Apple that is used on the Internet and other desktop applications.

RGB- Red, Green, Blue. This is the common color space used on computers. Website graphics are saved as RGB, as well as other output that involves a monitor. Colors are determined by mixing these 3 colors together with values ranging from 0 to 255. Black has an RGB value of R=0, G=0, B=0. A light purple could be a value of is R=180, G=0, B=255.

Revert- This is a command found in many computer applications that returns the document to it's last saved state.

Resolution- This determines the detail of an image based on the amount of pixels. More pixels means higher resolution. The higher the resolution, the better the printed output.

San Serif- This is type that lacks the strokes on the end of letters that can be found on a Serif Typeface. An example of a typeface that is San Serif is Arial.

Serif- These are the exaggerated strokes at the ends of letters. Type that has these markings are known as Serif type. An example of a typeface that has serifs is Times New Roman.

Spot Color- This refers to a color that does not go through the CMYK process to obtain color values. Instead, each color in a document is created using that exact color, not a mixture of CMYK halftone values. Spot colors are used most often in limited color jobs where the cost of ink is too high for 4 color CMYK printing, or where a particular color (say for a logo) used must be exact.

Vector Graphic- A graphics format that uses shapes and lines, called paths. Vector graphics are resolution independent graphics that appear smooth and crisp regardless of how magnified the image is on screen. They also can be enlarged as big as you want them without having jagged edges. This format is best for line art and logos that don't require complicated coloring or textures.

X-height- This is the vertical height of a typeface that is measured from the baseline to the top of lowercase letters without ascenders. X is a letter that can be measured this way (hence the name), as well as a, c, e, m, n, s, and so on.

Widow- This is a single word or line of text that is left on the top of a page or column that was continued from a previous page or column. This is a no no in page layout.

WYSIWYG- (What you see is what you get) This is a term used for applications that show how a graphic/layout will look while you are editing it.




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